Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Side view of a man holding his young daughter while they hang ornaments on the christmas tree - coparenting holiday concept
Whether it’s your first holiday post-divorce or you’ve been apart for several years, co-parenting can be particularly challenging between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While the holidays should be a time for relaxation, fun, and celebration, they can also be incredibly stressful when co-parents aren’t on good terms. However, by putting a co-parenting holiday schedule in place and taking a few tips into consideration, co-parents can have a holiday without tension — and help their children create positive memories that last a lifetime. Here are ten tips for drama-free co-parenting during the holidays:

1. Specify Who Gets Which Holidays in Your Parenting Plan

It’s important to create a co-parenting holiday schedule when you’re drafting your parenting plan. By dividing the holidays in advance, you can avoid disputes in the future. While the holidays can be split in many different ways, the arrangement should not favor one parent over another. For instance, some parents choose to alternate who has the children for Christmas each year — others may agree that the children spend Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day. If co-parents live close enough, it might even be possible to split each holiday so the children get to spend part of the day with each parent.

2. Start New Traditions with Your Children

It’s essential to acknowledge that holidays will be different after a divorce. Instead of focusing on the traditions that you may no longer be able to carry on, create new ones with your children. Be sure to include your children in the planning process and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Remember, the most important thing is that you prioritize your children and enjoy the time you spend together.

3. Be Flexible with Plans

Even if you have a solid parenting plan and co-parenting holiday schedule in place, there can still be unanticipated issues that arise. Illnesses and inclement winter weather can sometimes result in the need to cancel or reschedule plans. If your co-parent requests a last-minute change, be flexible. Not only can flexibility make your co-parenting relationship easier, but it can benefit your children long-term.

4. Know That Things Will Be Different

After a divorce, it can take you and your children some time to adjust to the changes in your lives. It’s essential that you acknowledge things will be different. While holidays can accentuate the fact that things will never be the same, they can trigger unexpected emotions in both parents and children. Post-divorce changes can be difficult for everyone — you should be patient with your children and civil with your co-parent.

5. Don’t Try to Compete with Your Co-Parent During the Holidays

Don’t try to outdo your co-parent or overcompensate by purchasing your children expensive gifts or toys. This won’t change the fact that their parents have parted ways, and it can often lead to resentment from your co-parent. Instead, it’s best for co-parents to work together to develop a budget and coordinate gifts to avoid gift competition.

6. Practice Effective Communication

Although it’s always important to practice effective and healthy communication with your co-parent, it’s particularly crucial during the holidays. Children can sense tension between their parents and ongoing conflict can have a negative impact on them. If you and your co-parent frequently experience conflict, keep communications business-like and centered around the children. Don’t use your children as a messenger or put them in the middle of their parents’ issues.

7. Consider Celebrating the Holiday Together as Co-Parents

If you and your co-parent are amicable, you might consider spending the holiday together. This can mean that both parents get to see their children on the holiday and there are no conflicts over the co-parenting holiday schedule or which parent spends more time with them. For younger children, it can also be less disruptive and allow your family to continue making holiday memories together.

8. Put the Best Interests of Your Children First

When you’re creating a co-parenting holiday schedule, you always want to make sure you’re putting the best interests of your children first. For instance, if you are trying to squeeze multiple celebrations into one day, try to think of this from the perspective of a child. Even though you might be trying to ensure everyone gets to spend time with your child, a jam-packed schedule can be exhausting for them. Try to structure your holiday schedule to allow your child time to enjoy the season, relax, and have fun.

9. Focus on Self Care

The holidays might not only be exhausting for children, but they can be tiring for adults as well. No matter how busy your schedule is, take time out to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Keep up with your regular workout routine, ensure you get enough sleep, and find positive ways to spend your time when your children are with their other parent. If you don’t have the children for the holidays this year, you don’t have to be alone. Reach out to family and friends who are supportive and can help you get in the holiday spirit.

10. Set a Good Example for Your Children

Set a good example for your children by working cooperatively and respectfully with your co-parent during the holidays, as well as year-round. It’s critical to put your differences aside and avoid badmouthing your co-parent in front of the children, no matter how contentious your relationship is with your ex. Implementing positive co-parenting techniques can make your holiday a success — and create happy memories for your children.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Divorce and Family Law Attorney

No matter what time of year it is, nothing is more important than your children and their well-being. It’s vital to have a custody arrangement and parenting plan in place that allows them to develop relationships with both their parents — and thrive. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides dedicated representation for a wide variety of family law matters throughout Oregon and assists parents with creating effective parenting time agreements and co-parenting holiday schedules. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation to learn how we can help.
Categories: Child Custody